While the Australian Government partly justified the introduction of a universal National Service Training Scheme for eighteen-year old males in 1951 by highlighting the threat of imminent war and the consequent need for military preparedness, advocates also believed that national service encouraged the development of a sense of civil responsibility. Its confidence in the potential of national service to promote citizenship explains why the government was so strongly committed to the scheme's universality. Nonetheless, although the government went to great lengths to enforce compliance, Aborigines and those from other "non-white" backgrounds were actively discouraged from participation and women were only reluctantly admitted to the professional army. As would be expected in this period, they were never considered for national service. An examination of the rationale for national service and the associated discourse for inclusion and exclusion not only indicates the social assumptions shaping policy-making by government and bureaucratic elites in 1950s Australia, but also reveals their wider social aspirations.
Field of Research
210399 Historical Studies not elsewhere classified 210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)